The Ohio State program is humming along at a pace that’s unprecedented for the Buckeyes. They have finished 1st or tied for 1st in their Big Ten division for the last eight seasons. To put that in perspective, Woody Hayes had six straight seasons finishing #1 or tied for #1 in the Big Ten, and Jim Tressel had five (six if you count the aborted Tatgate season). They have also beaten Michigan 15 out of the last 16 meetings, with the lone blip coming against one-year interim head coach Luke Fickell.
Hit the jump for more.
Ohio State has survived scandal after scandal. The one who got them on a roll was Tressel, who knowingly allowed improper benefits for his players and lied about it. That man is so revered in the State of Ohio that he is now the President of Youngstown State University. His biggest star player said, “Everybody kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me,” and everyone shrugged their shoulders.
Not everyone cheats on a grand scale, but that’s the norm in Columbus, Ohio.
After a year of Fickell, OSU hired another cheater and a man with a terrible historical record when it comes to good behavior. His players at Florida got arrested at a ridiculous rate, and he “retired for medical reasons,” only to return after a year in the television booth. He proceeded to protect an inept and violent coach; he lied about it and stepped down once again. Ohio State people shrugged their shoulders, and Fox snapped him up to sit in the TV booth.
We have seen this type of juggernaut fall before. Miami was a powerhouse with Howard Schnellenberger, Dennis Erickson, Jimmy Johnson, and Butch David in the 1980s through the early 2000s. At the end of it, Larry Coker went undefeated in his first year before dropping off to the point where Miami has been mired in mediocrity every since, going 6-6 this year. Bear Bryant’s Alabama was THE place to play football in the South from the 1950s through the early 1980s, but then came Ray Perkins and Bill Curry.
Ohio State will fall at some point. Nothing lasts forever, and even if a scandal doesn’t knock them from the top, eventually a bad coaching hire, injuries, or bad luck will knock them from their perch. Maybe Ryan Day isn’t Larry Coker, and maybe he is. Maybe the next guy will be. But the truth is that right now, Michigan is an also-ran in the Big Ten East.
Michigan needs to position itself to be waiting in the wings when the fall comes. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t strive to win. They need to win on the recruiting trail, hire the best available coaches, continue to push the envelope on nutrition and fitness, offer one of the best educations available, etc.
There is no coup coming. The Wolverines are not going to reach the mountaintop through sheer force of will. They need to play the long game and prevent things from crumbling while they lie in wait.
You need to login in order to vote